Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - September 11, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
District The Lethbridge Herald Local News Second Section Lethbridge, Alberta, Wednesday, September Pages 13-22 Reporter no match for two-wheeled handicap The day began in a relaxed, almost jovial, atmosphere that did not portend the even- tual outcome of this assignment, arrant frustra- tion and utter defeat. The morning was drizzling and overcast, but feelings ran enthusiasm mis- ed with superiority I could outmanoeuvre any concrete and iron barriers the city could throw at me. But those thoughts quickly diminished within a few hours of boarding the wheelchair. A wheelchair I would try and stay in for eight hours. The "day in a wheelchair" project, begun 25 stairs above street level in The Herald newsroom, could have been deemed futile as the problems of the disabled unfolded into naked reality. After rebounding from desks and typewriter tables, stretching across my own desk to reach anything and straining to reach the keys on my typewriter, the limited mobility of the chair and driver became clear. But office obstacles weren't what I was planning to master so I headed on an excursion to the Municipal Hospital. Because it wasn't likely any disabled person would push a wheelchair from downtown to the hospital, and because I couldn't use any public tran- sportation I decided to use my car. After searching the second floor of The Herald for some assistance with the freight elevator I decided to cheat just this once by carrying the chair down the stairs. I had to hurry to the car, my two hours in the zone was almost up. Too late. Another two dollars for city coffers. Upon seeing the soggy white ticket on the windshield and finding that my jacket was dragging on the muddy wheel of the chair, a first wave of failure drifted over me: And the wave did not sub- side. I wheeled onto the grassy boulevard and found wheelchairs do not roll par- ticularly well on grass, es- pecially when the back wheel falls into a hole. I again decided to cheat just once more and haul the chair into the car. After parking in the nearest legal spot to the hospital I again boarded the wheelchair and confronted my first of many curbs, if won. I detoured. But finally, after an extra block of pushing. I was face to face with the front door of the hospital. The door was a for- midable foe.'I looked at its brass frame and huge panes of glass, but wondering how I could get over the four inch curb in front. The only ramp in sight was guarded by an iron railing, which hospital olhcials have since promised to remove. I bucked the front of the chair up the miniature curb and the feeling that I was fall- ing over backwards suddenly gripped me, but by hauling on the wheels I climbed the curb. The door turned out to be a paper tiger, my only victory of the day. The curb was not a victory. When I left the hospital, it tripped my chair and tried to mash my nose into the wet concrete. My foot vious the uice were loaded in my favor. In a similar predicament a person really disabled would have been much worse off. But not to despair or give in. I decided downtown had to be conquered. Quixote against tHie downtown windmills. St. George against the concrete dragons. On my second trip from the newsroom the photographer and I decided to use the freight elevator. The elevator, however, proved to be less than accep- table to reach the street. Fac- ing us as we left the lift was a series of stairs, a doorway two inches narrower than the chair and another three steps to the sidewalk. Should have tried a different route. I need- ed help. Outside the building I was met by Frank Merkl, chairman of Disabled on the Move. He provided me with a few tips on travel and we set out for our first objective, the library. Although all sidewalks in Lethbridge seem to run uphill, we managed to make it to the front of the library. Huffing and puffing like a worn out bellows I heaved and tugged towards the door. Halfway up the path I puffed out. As I left the incline, the library entrance seemed to be laughing my failure. I became more frustrated with every curb as city hall became our next objective. Curbs, cracks and small mounds turned into major ob- stacles, doors were impossi- ble to open, public facilities could not be used and city hall itself could not be entered. No wonder the aldermen turned down the challenge of spending a day in a wheelchair. I had to travel on busy streets, knowingly breaking the law. because sidewalks were inaccessible. Two ramps the only .two in the city, leading from the sidewalk near city hall to the street proved useless. Stores, the post office, public telephones, bathrooms, restaurants and the police sta- tion could just as well have been in another city for the use anyone in a wheelchair could make of them. 1 could reach a phone booth receiver, but couldn't dial or deposit money. And although the sun was out bringing people onto the street my mood became as gloomy as the sky at 4V- beginning of the Eyes of psiestrians watch- ed and quickly turned away and passers-by made sure they didn't look of frustra- iwck to The Herald. Even later, as I walked up the stairs to my apartment. the day completed, mission accomplished thoughts of these stairs and other stairs and the barrier they present to the handicapped every day. ran through my mind. With my fore arm muscles aching, my jacket muddy, my pride dented and my insight a little advanced I looked down and climbed the remaining two steps. Signs may guide bikes Story by George Sfepfienson Phil Illlngworth photos A proposal for putting up signs that will tell cyclists what streets they must stay off and other signs to direct them to alternate routes, was among suggestions made at a meeting Tuesday of a com- mittee studying the controver- sial bicycle bylaw. Fifth newcomer eyes seat John Gogo, 42, divisional manager of Investors Syn- dicate Ltd., and a resident of the city for seven years, an- nounced his candidacy for alderman today. "I don't really have an axe to grind, but I am full of questions I want Mr. Gogo said, in becoming the fifth newcomer to formal- ly announce a candidacy for a council seat. "One he said, "is that of residential develop- ment to the south. "I realize that the city is heavily committed financially on the west side and there is no better way to assure success there than to freeze other areas, but I feel the city is responsible in some way for escalating land prices in other areas." A father of five, Mr. Gogo is the chairman of the Canada Winter Games lottery, presi- dent of the Lethbridge unit of the Canadian Cancer Society, past president of the Lethbridge Rotary Club, and a director of the YMCA. He's involved in both provincial and federal politics as a director of the federal Lethbridge Progressive Conservative Constituency Association and the provincial Lethbridge East Progressive Conservative Constituency. "We feel proper signs should be put up so that people will know exactly where they can and can't said Aid. Cam Barnes, who is on the committee along with Police Chief Ralph Michelson and City Solicitor John Hammond. Aid. Barnes said the com- mittee felt Mayor Magrath Drive, 6th Avenue S. and 13th Street at least should remain banned to cyclists. But cyclists could be encouraged to use the service roads along Mayor Magrath Drive by making them more accessible v.'ith ramps on curbs, Aid. Barnes said. The east sidewalk of 13th Street N. including the railway underpass could be designated a bicycles only sidewalk similar to the east side of the 9th Street over- pass. Fifth Avenue S. would be seen as a bike route replacing 6th Avenue S., he said. There would also be a place for bikes on the 6th Avenue bridge route to the west side, while bike paths could also be marked out in Henderson Lake and Indian Battle Parks. "We're going to put these ideas together, bring in the city traffic department and let them criticize our findings and report to council in two Aid. Barnes said. Other arterial routes, at the moment off-limits to bikes un- der the letter of the bicycle bylaw would be reviewed with the police and traffic departments he said. "We wanted to do something about these main ones first." Aid. Barnes said the com- mittee also feels the equip- ment provisions in the bicycle bylaw requiring proper lights, rear reflectors and brakes, and rules of the road for bicycles should be strictly en- forced. Sprinklers safer after meeting Alberta government representatives Tuesday es- tablished rapport with manufacturers of centre pivot irrigation systems that will help to ensure the safety of farmers and farms. At a seminar sponsored by Car dealer honored at dinner A Lethbridge car dealer wih be honored Thursday at the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner. Charles Beny will receive an honorary life membership, the chamber's highest honor. He began in the implement business in 1916 in Medicine Hat with Beny and Son Ltd.. developing it as an implement and automotive dealership. Ir 1945 he to responsibility for Baalim Motors Ltd. In Lethbridge. he developed Beny Mr. Beny has been active in Kiwanis and the chamber, serving as lieutenant- governor of Kiwanis clubs in Alberta and president of the chamber in Young girl hospitalized A Lethbridge girl is hospitalized in satisfactory condition after her bicycle and a car collided at 36th Avenue and 15th Street S. Tuesday at about 5 p.m. Colleen Wood. 131015th Ave. S.. was travelling west on I6lh Avenue. The car was driven by Cecilia B. Rutiedge. 62. of 820 9th St. S. the Alberta irrigation division at the Lethbridge Community College. 12 centre pivot irriga- tion dealers and eight manufacturing represen- tatives met provincial electrical protection branch personnel to confirm safety requirements that must be built into irrigation equipment entering this province. Len Ring, agricultural engineer with the irrigation division, said inspectors follow the Canadian Electrical Code. While the code is good, it can be un- wieldy and 'the Tuesday meeting was designed to put across to the American manufacturers what Alberta inspectors require. Centre pivot irrigation systems, a long pipe with sprinkler heads attached, revolve around a central water outlet. They are driven by a series of electric motors attached to wheels. Fred Clarke of Lethbridge. supervisor of electrical in Southern Alber- ta, said it has impressed upon the manufacturers that they must make sure ail the com- ponents in an irrigation system meet Alberta specifications before the total unit will be accepted for use here He said the inspection branch wants to make sure there is no bottleneck in supplies in the failure because of inadequate safety stan- dards. Parl of any possible problem in area was look- ed alter by the irrigation system manufacturers who voluntarily agreed to meet a standard set by themselves. 11 is designed to go into effect this January Because manufacturers with dealers in Alberta were represented at the Tuesday meeting, they know for sure what to expect from Alberta inspectors. And they can build the systems accordingly.